Some time ago, a friend showed me a letter that a young man wrote to the editor of her Christian college newspaper:
The other day I was going to the business office to take care of some financial matters and I could not believe some of the things I was seeing. The landscaping around campus looked exceptionally great. There were new dorms, new faces and unfortunately, scantily clad females were everywhere as well.
This is . . . particularly hard for males because they are stimulated by sight. Now guys, we are not off the hook just because females are dressed inappropriately. We are called in 2 Timothy 2:22 to ‘flee from youthful lust and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.” However, girls, help us brothers out . . . . Please consider your clothing and what the Bible says concerning the way you dress . . . . 1
It seems that women today have not only forgotten how to blush, but they also do not recognize what should cause a blush. Men and women are created differently. Men are visually stimulated, while women respond more to touch. As one man put it, “What a man’s touch is to a woman, the sight of a woman is to a man.” 2
We may not understand why men are wired for sexual stimulation by sight, but remember, this is part of God’s plan, and He has declared it good—when it is used for His purposes. We have a responsibility not to cause men to stumble by dressing in a way that visually tempts a man to sin. This is a serious issue, if we desire to reflect God’s heart and be a blessing rather than a hindrance to the men around us.
A woman shared with me, “Five years ago I learned about my husband’s failures with his thought life, which led to an affair with a woman at work who dressed very sensually. My heart was broken.”
Let me ask you: Who was responsible for this affair? Was this husband? Absolutely! Did the woman who dressed sensually have any responsibility? Absolutely!
Richard Baxter was a 17th century pastor who recognized, even back then, that women’s clothing could snare a man’s mind. He used a word picture that graphically illustrates how our choices as women affect the men around us:
And though it be their sin and vanity that is the cause, it is nevertheless your sin to be the unnecessary occasion . . . You must not lay a stumbling-block in their way, nor blow up the fire of their lust . . . You must walk among sinful persons, as you would do with a candle among straw or gunpowder; or else you may see the flame which you did not foresee, when it is too late to quench it.” 3
God calls us to walk in this world as “a candle among straw or gunpowder.” A fire or explosion can be devastating, and it can injure and destroy many lives.
As Christian women, our clothing choices can either help men succeed morally or can put temptation in their path that they may find it difficult to overcome.
Melody Green, widow of gospel music legend Keith Green, described the mixed message many Christian women send through their clothing choices:
Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians are lost in their own selfish little world—either oblivious or uncaring about the effect they have on others. They may even appear to have a real excitement and love for the Lord—however, their body is sending out a totally different message. I know, because . . . I have done it—partly in ignorance, but mostly in rebellion. I can remember thinking, “Well, it’s not my fault if they can’t keep their eyes off of me and on the Lord. They just aren't spiritual enough. Why should I have to change just because they are weak?”
But the Lord showed me that it wasmy fault. I was responsible for causing my brother to stumble and it had to change. Once I really saw the damage my selfishness was doing to others and to the Lord, I was really ashamed of myself and embarrassed that I had been representing Jesus in such an unbecoming way.4
Ask yourself, “Am I helping or hindering men who desire to be morally pure?” “How can my dress and appearance bring glory to God and help my brothers stand?”
Remember that modesty is not first an issue of what we wear. It’s essentially a heart issue. If our hearts are right with God—if we’re walking in purity and humility before Him—the fruit will be a modest external appearance.
Our culture shouts, “Be cool,” “You only go around once,” “Go for the gusto.” But the Lord whispers, “You only have one life; live it for My glory.”
What would it mean for you to dress for the glory of God? Would you need to make any changes?
Living life to God’s glory may require some tough choices, but they will be worth it. By seeking to please the Lord in the way you dress, you can encourage the men around you who want to live godly lives. As the college student said in his letter to the editor, we can “help our brothers out.”
1Phillip (Freaky) Howle, Letters to the Editor: “Women’s choice in dress leads men to stumble, ” The Skyliner (North Greenville College, Tigerville, SC. September 4, 2002).
2“The Sin of Bathsheba” is an article published anonymously as “Address to Christian Women” in Patriarch, an online magazine for men. See www.patriarch.com/worldview.html
3Richard Baxter, A Christian Directory in Baxter’s Practical Works Vol. I, (London: George Virtue; reprint ed., Ligonier, Pennsylvania: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1990), 392.
4Green, Melody; Uncovering The Truth About Modesty, www.lastdaysministries.org/articles.